The Loft

The Home Base blog

Desert Oasis

Cactus and succulents are a waterwise choice that will also inject some Palm Springs pizzazz into your landscape


With water restrictions likely to be a permanent feature of living in Western Australia, many people are on the hunt for waterwise gardening ideas.

Palm Springs styling is getting plenty of love on mood boards, providing inspiration for both interior and exterior design.

Danny Murabito of Instant Gardens says his client Plunkett Homes asked him to create a Palm Springs-themed garden for one of its display homes.

“This type of look is ideal for Perth because Palm Springs has a very similar climate,” he says.

The Wandi garden features a collection of cactuses and other drought-tolerant plantings.

“Cactus are very easy to grow, they require little maintenance and they are used to going for long periods without water or food,” Danny says. “All the plants chosen for this garden are extremely hardy.”

Along with curved garden beds, rustic Cor-Ten steel and crushed stone, the garden is loaded with tree aloes, yuccas, dracaena, sedum, kalanchoe, crassula and festuca.

“A lot of these plants are drought tolerant, so they really are very easy care,” he says. “The grasses and succulents we have used are fast growing but the cactus are very slow growing. Some of the cactus we planted are more than 10 years old.

“We also used large feature limestone boulders and fine southwest river stone to create that desert feel.”

Danny says it can be difficult to source cactuses in Perth because there are only a few large growers. But some smaller suppliers have access to stock.

Bigger cactuses can be expensive but he believes they are worth it. “There are hundreds of varieties of cactus and succulents and many have the most beautiful flowers in a wide variety of colours.”

Danny says that like Australian native gardens, cactus and succulent gardens are a wise choice for people building a new home and they work really well with modern architecture.

“We’ve had an amazing response to this garden, people love that it is so different,” he says.

Kevin Dickens, of Plunkett Homes, says visitors to the display not only love the garden, they also like the interior design which features the same theme.

“It’s different but people definitely like it,” he says. “There’s something glamorous about it and it is very luxurious.”

Kevin says people these days spend so much time working, they want to feel like their home is a luxury retreat so that when they come home, they can truly relax.

“This home definitely has the luxury factor,” he says. “With a low-maintenance garden, people can see themselves spending less time on maintenance and more time on relaxation and I think that’s a big part of the appeal here.”

Kevin says most visitors to the home are also impressed the property has a scullery.

“Open plan is still very popular but people are really interested in sculleries, because they want to be able to hide mess away when they are entertaining.

“No one wants a games room any more, they want a scullery instead.”